Don't Eat Any Romaine Lettuce, CDC Warns, As E. Coli Outbreak Grows

Frederick Owens
April 21, 2018

On Friday, they extended their alert about E. Coli contamination in romaine lettuce from the region to cover the entire United States. The agency is also asking retailers and restaurants not to sell or serve romaine lettuce, and most of those who were sickened reported eating chopped lettuce at restaurants.

The last reported case dates back to April 6, but the CDC said anyone who has ingested contaminated products after March 29, might not have reported it yet.

According to the Mayo Clinic, O157 E.coli symptoms include diarrhea, which could be bloody, as well as abdominal cramping or pain, and in some people, nausea.

This includes whole heads of lettuce, chopped lettuce, salad mixes, and hearts of romaine lettuce, after people in Alaska reported illnesses following the consumptions of whole heads of romaine lettuce.

Turning the soil to redistribute the bacteria so that sunlight and heat can go to work on them may speed the process but, in Arizona, 'crop from that one area will continue to be unsafe, probably until they grow it in other fields, ' Hanson says.

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The outbreak is linked to a growing region near Yuma that's known as the "winter lettuce capital". Thirty-one of the cases required hospitalization.

In all, 53 people in 16 states have gotten sick, with 31 being hospitalized, according to the CDC. Ask the waiter if the romaine lettuce is coming from the Yuma area. If you're not one of those people, and you don't feel like interrogating your local grocer to find out exactly where the salad mixes on the shelves were grown, it's probably best to just avoid romaine entirely, at least until this whole mess gets cleared up. No grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified.

"Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten", the CDC said in a statement. Infections start when someone swallows a tiny amount of human or animal feces through a variety of ways, including contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk, unclean water or contact with the feces of infected people.

Illnesses related to romaine include 12 cases in Pennsylvania and two in OH, where both victims are 24-year-old women from Mahoning County. But a small number, including the strain in this outbreak, produce a toxin called Shiga that can cause serious illness or death in people.

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